What is it?
First revealed in production guise at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the latest in a long line of celebratory Golf GTI models has been created to mark the 40th anniversary of the introduction of Wolfburg’s iconic front-wheel-drive hot hatch, which originally hit showrooms back in 1976.
It is planned to reach the UK in limited numbers in early 2016, and with a starting price of around £29,000 it is not only holds the distinction of being the most powerful production-based Golf GTi, but is also the most expensive to date.
The Clubsport is differentiated from existing seventh-generation Golf GTi models through a series of styling upgrades which are claimed to provide it with true downforce, both on the front and rear axle, at speeds above 75mph for the first time.
Included is a unique front bumper featuring a large central air duct with a honeycomb insert, additional trapezoidal ducts used to cool the front brakes, high-gloss black blades low down on the outer edges for added downforce, so-called air curtains to smooth airflow around the edges and a splitter element down low.
The upgrades up front are accompanied by high-gloss black door mirror housings and a black graphic along the lower edge of the doors in homage to the look of the original 1976 Golf GTi.
At the rear, Volkswagen’s design team has provided the new car with a new twin-vane spoiler mounted atop the tailgate, together with vertical vanes along the outer edges of the rear window, a heavily restyled bumper with an integrated diffuser and larger-diameter chromed tailpipes.
The Golf GTI Clubsport is powered by a reworked version of the Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder EA888 petrol engine, as used by existing versions of the Golf GTi. But while the standard Golf GTi gets 217bhp, or 227bhp in Performance guise, the Clubsport offers up 261bhp between 5350 and 6600rpm.
That’s not the end of the story, though. An overboost function temporarily raises turbocharger boost pressure from 1.9bar to 2.1bar for up to 10 seconds on kickdown, increasing overall power output to 287bhp – albeit only for a maximum 10 seconds. That's just 8bhp less than the Golf R.